Who is Iraqi painter Hayv Kahraman?

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Hayv Kahraman - Curfew, 2015, Oil on linen, 185x244cm, courtesy the artist and The Third Line
Hayv KahramanCurfew, 2015, Oil on linen, 185x244cm

Published on: Friday December 9, 2016

Last updated

Hayv Kahraman’s biography

Hayv Kahraman was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1981, moved to Sweden at the age of 11 and began painting at the age of 12. She uses art in various ways to create something that is extremely unique and catching. Kahraman’s artwork depicts the impacts of war, significantly the effect on war women. Her diverse stylistic references range from Japanese and Arabic calligraphy art nouveau, Greek iconography and Persian miniature.

How being an immigrant influenced her work

Hayv Kahraman’s work contends with the marginal spaces between Western and Middle Eastern culture, including the physical traits and the concepts of gender through her individual histories as an Iraqi immigrant to Europe then to the United States. Her work has intertextual notes of the Western and Middle Eastern art histories, but her personal aesthetic, as an immigrant, is of her very own and belongs to neither.

Who are the pale women in her paintings?

Hayv Kahraman’s second solo show at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York called “How Iraqi Are You?” is a grabbing expedition, building on the refined figuration of Persian miniatures, her paintings depict pairs and groups of similar looking women in conversation, with pale skin, large gestures and features that are reminiscent of the women featured in Renaissance paintings combined with the features of the stunning powdered geishas on Japanese woodblocks. The scenes in Hayv Kahraman works are actually those from Ms. Kahraman’s childhood, where she grew up in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and later in Sweden. The images depict a sense of styles that have been reborn in addition to the emotions of female empowerment, strength, and intimacy.

Video: Hayv Kahraman: Gendering Memories of Iraq

45min 16sec

Exhibitions

Kahraman now lives and works in Los Angeles, her work has been featured in exhibitions including at a number of renowned venues including Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, Princeton; Newtopia: The State of Human Rights, Kazerne Dossin Museum, Mechelen, Belgium. Her work is also included in a number of public collections including the American Embassy, Baghdad; The Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; MATHAF Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and The Rubell Family Collection, in Miami.

Paintings

Hayv Kahraman - Untitled, 2019, oil on linen, 264.2 × 200.7 cm (104 × 79.0 in)
Hayv Kahraman – Untitled, 2019, oil on linen, 264.2 × 200.7 cm (104 × 79.0 in)

Hayv Kahraman - The Celebrity, 2018, oil on linen, 254 x 2.66 cm (100 x 79 in)
Hayv Kahraman – The Celebrity, 2018, oil on linen, 254 x 2.66 cm (100 x 79 in)
Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Hayv Kahraman - Barricade 1, 2018, oil on linen, 127 x 198.1 x 7.6 cm (50 x 78 x 3 in)
Hayv Kahraman – Barricade 1, 2018, oil on linen, 127 x 198.1 x 7.6 cm (50 x 78 x 3 in)

Hayv Kahraman - Collective Cut, 2008, Oil on linen, 106.5x173cm, courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery
Hayv KahramanCollective Cut, 2008, Oil on linen, 106.5x173cm
Courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Hayv Kahraman - Hammal Bashi, 2015, Oil on linen, 177.8x137cm
Hayv KahramanHammal Bashi, 2015, Oil on linen, 177.8x137cm

Hayv Kahraman - Hold Still, 2010, Oil on linen, 106.6x172.7cm
Hayv KahramanHold Still, 2010, Oil on linen, 106.6×172.7cm

Hayv Kahraman - Kachakchi, oil on linen, 200x274cm, 2015
Hayv KahramanKachakchi, oil on linen, 200x274cm, 2015

Hayv Kahraman - Magic Lamp, 2015, 185x244cm, courtesy the artist and The Third Line
Hayv KahramanMagic Lamp, 2015, 185x244cm
Courtesy the artist and The Third Line

Hayv Kahraman - Sexual, 2009, oil on linen, 107x173cm
Hayv KahramanSexual, 2009, oil on linen, 107x173cm

Hayv Kahraman - Test Your Iraqiness, 2015, Oil on linen, 96.5 x 144.8 cm
Hayv KahramanTest Your Iraqiness, 2015, Oil on linen, 96.5×144.8cm

Hayv Kahraman - The Translator, 2015, Oil on linen, 249x193cm
Hayv KahramanThe Translator, 2015, Oil on linen, 249x193cm

Hayv Kahraman - Threading My Mustache, 2010, Oil on wooden panel, 112x87cm
Hayv KahramanThreading My Mustache, 2010, Oil on wooden panel, 112x87cm

Hayv Kahraman - Toilette, 2009, oil on linen, 107x173cm
Hayv KahramanToilette, 2009, oil on linen, 107x173cm

Hayv Kahraman - Her Name is Gun, 2015, Oil on linen, 244 x 185 cm
Hayv KahramanHer Name is Gun, 2015, Oil on linen, 244x185cm

All images by Hayv Kahraman/hayvkahraman.com unless otherwise noted.

Video: Hayv Kahraman’s poetry

2min 30sec

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